Rebecca Razo works in the California office making books for Walter Foster and Laguna Press imprints.
Where are you from and how did you end up at Quarto?
I was born and raised in the Los Angeles suburbs. When I was 20 years old, I applied to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). By the time I was 21, I was starting the Police Academy. I was a street patrol officer in Hollywood and the San Pedro/Wilmington areas, but about five years into my career, I was involved in an on-duty car accident and I was off work for about a year rehabilitating. During this time, I did a lot of soul searching and decided to set my sights on a new career. At the time, I was still in college chipping away at an English Degree, but I’d always been an avid reader and writer, so I started thinking about publishing as a career option.
It took another five years to break from the LAPD, but in that time I finished my degree, went to graduate school, and got my daughter through middle school and some of high school. And that’s when I jumped ship. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I left a very high-paying career for a $15/hour assistant editor position in a small trade publishing house. I worked my way up in the company to managing editor; then left to work in consumer magazines for a few years before finally joining Walter Foster and Quarto as a Managing Editor of licensed books.
What do you do at Quarto?
I’m the publisher of the art imprint, Walter Foster.
What’s a typical day for you?
There really are no “typical” days, which is one of the reasons I enjoy my job. A relatively mellow day would see me catching up on email, working with my team to plan our acquisitions lists, troubleshooting the inevitable challenges inherent in publishing, and, most importantly, laughing!
Which new projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m always working on several new Projects, but for the past couple of years, I’ve been focused on modernizing the imprint by improving the overall design aesthetic and content, creating series, publishing more on-trend titles, and expanding our global network of artists and designers.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from working at Quarto?
That determination and adaptability/flexibility in equal measure are important. And this covers a lot of ground because obstacles and hurdles are part of the natural landscape in the publishing industry. I believe there is a solution to every challenge—so I'm either determined to find my way to that solution or flexible enough to make the conscious decision to walk away from something that I know won’t be beneficial to the business—irrespective of my personal feelings.
Also, I’ve learned to become far more objective since working at Quarto. Not just here but in my personal life as well. It’s amazing what you can learn by just stopping and really listening to people without letting your own judgments get in the way. I’m feeling far more enlightened now than before I worked at Quarto. Of course, I’m still a work in progress!
Which skills do you need to work as a Publisher?
Creativity for sure; the desire and ability to develop some expertise in the field of publishing you are interested in; and, above all, the desire to learn about every part of the industry and the business, whether it directly affects your role or not. Ask questions, attend meetings you don’t need to necessarily be in, and listen to those around you. Take everything in.
What advice would you give someone who wants to apply for a role at Quarto?
We are a diverse and interesting place, so come in knowing where your skills will not only be best applied, but how you will use those skills to better serve Quarto’s global mission. Is it in sales, production, editorial? Be specific about your accomplishments and think BIG! Quarto is great about promoting from within!
What’s your favorite place near the office?
So we are based in Lake Forest, California, just a few miles from the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Despite the Quarto urban legend, we do not take our laptops to the beach and work while sunbathing! But we have been known to take a trek down after hours to take in a sunset and a cocktail. I love the ocean and couldn't imagine not living near a body of water.
What is your favorite Quarto book?
Oh my! This is the most difficult question for me to answer… there isn’t just one! But some of my favorites are The Black Dogs Project (Race Point); 1,000 Dog Portraits (Rockport); and Doodling for Dog People (Walter Foster). Are you sensing a theme?
If you weren’t working in book publishing, what would you do?
Undoubtedly, it would involve working with rescue dogs and other animals in some capacity. My love for animals cannot be overstated! And, don’t tell anyone, but I’ve long harbored a secret dream to one day own an alpaca farm.
Behind the scenes